DC college refused to approve 'Bad and Boujee'-inspired fundraiser

American University refused to approve their space for the fundraiser claiming it was appropriating culture.

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - A hit rap song sparked a bit of controversy on a college campus.

A fraternity at American University used the song title "Bad and Boujee" to promote a fundraiser, but the school pumped the breaks on the event.

An email conversation from one school leader showed he thought using the word "boujee" may be perceived as culture appropriation.

Sigma Alph Mu was organizing a badminton fundraiser to help veterans dealing with PTSD called Bad(minton) and Boujee.

“I think in 24 hours we had over one hundred people who RSVP'd. And then right after that we got shut down,” Rocco Cimino said.

He says the university refused to approve their space for the fundraiser.

An email from an administrator said the event was not approved under that name because they “had groups get reamed for appropriating culture” before.

“He kind of agreed with us that the way Migos uses it isn't cultural appropriation but he was afraid at the way we were going to use it is,” Cimino said.

Boujee is slang for the French word bourgeois which is usually used in black culture to describe someone in the middle class.

“We made that abundantly clear. There was no theme to the event. We weren't going to be dressing up, we weren't going to be mimicking anyone. It was just a way to advertise it,” Cimino explained.

An A-U spokesperson told WUSA9 on Wednesday that regardless of how controversial – it is the fraternity’s right to make it’s own decision on the event.

“The key thing about cultural appropriation is this -- Is there a conscious intent to take something and use it and distort it? In this case I don't think,” Ethelbert Miller, a literary activist, said.

While Miller doesn’t think this particular instance is best defined as cultural appropriation – he said we have to be aware of what we say and why we say it.

“The only thing I would ask is when you arrive at this, can you explain it? Did you do your research? Test it out on the audience,” Miller said. So who is going to be offended?”

“If I'm white, do I have to know all of that? 2017 I think you have to especially if you are on a college campus.”

Since the fraternity is no longer having the event to support Armor Down, the members created a GoFund Me page to support the organization.

American University sent the following statement:

"It is true some students on campus were concerned with the title of the event, however we do not have a policy or a practice that requires a group to change such a title. The nature and titles of some events could have negative impact and unintended consequences on campus, and while the university doesn't prohibit them from proceeding, our Office of Campus Life works with the sponsoring student group, educates them on the possible impact on their peers, talks through some options, and allows them to decide how they will proceed. This coaching is part of the student experience.

We should have communicated it was the fraternity's choice on how to proceed, given the expressed concerns about the title. We didn't get it right initially, but we are working toward an amicable outcome for the fraternity. A senior staff member has communicated with the fraternity to clarify the proper coaching role of the university, and the fraternity's right to make its own call and proceed with the event. The fraternity and this staff member will also meet face to face to discuss it further. 

We have many events on campus each year, some with controversial titles, topics, language and speakers. The vast majority of the time, controversial events result in spirited, healthy dialogue. If we're lucky, noncontroversial events have the same result. "

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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